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Old 30th May 2019, 02:00 PM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default The use of European RAPIER blades in Maratha Pata and Khanda swords

In a concurrent discussion on the 'jamadhar-kitari (katarah) daggers of Hindu Kush, the topic of fragmented European rapier blades used on katars led to a sidebar on rapier blade use in the pata and khanda of the Marathas.
From an apparently incorrect notion I had in place from a now forgotten source, I had the idea that the Marathas disdained the thrust, regarding slashing cuts as de riguer in their swordsmanship.

This led me to believe that post contact use of European rapier blades mounted in Maratha swords such as pata and khanda were more of a status oriented novelty for court type wear. This idea was influenced by the supposed European influence of hilt development from the traditional khanda to the so called 'Hindu basket hilt' from the hilts of European swords.

Since Maratha sword fighting technique was of course not aligned with European fencing, I thought that the use of a thin rapier blade would be unlikely by them. However, I have found examples of both these type swords mounted with rapier blades and clearly intended for thrusting in the manner of a 'tuck' (as described in Pant, 1980) or estoc.

On p.62, Pant describes the pata with a long, flexible 'regularly tapering' straight steel blade, almost always double edged and frequently of European make ...generally Italian or Spanish FLAT RAPIER BLADES.

Here there is some confusion, as often European swords with the heavier arming blades but having hilts as seen on rapier forms are termed 'rapiers' in narratives. In some cases there are blades with ANDREA FERARA inscribed of course spuriously, but these are typically Solingen produced heavier blades of the arming type.

Also in Pant (p.14) he describes the pata , "...sometimes we find NARROW bladed straight rapier with a gauntlet hilt. In this weapon British influence is visible". On p.70 he notes that after the British occupation of India rapiers became popular, and that the rapier blades were fitted to firangi and other Indian swords. In another note he states that 'INDO-BRITISH rapiers of 18th-19th c. have 'long heavy blades'.

So we have here a bit of a conundrum:
Did the Marathas indeed use pata and khanda with NARROW rapier blades in actual battle situations?

Or were the descriptions of Indo British 'rapiers' with arming blades simply termed 'rapier' in the colloquial manner previously noted.

As I mentioned, I have seen examples of the narrow blades mounted on both pata and khanda hilts, but clearly in seemingly considerably less common number.

What are thoughts here on this?
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Old 30th May 2019, 05:18 PM   #2
fernando
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Red face Stubborn ... as a rapier

Jim, your resilience in the rapier blade saga is no more than mine in opposing some points i find hard to digest in it. They say one can only be a stubborn if his neighbor also is .
Let me start by the Khanda. I now you have a vast library in your bookmobile and a heavy luggage of knowledge; whereas i only have two or three publications and an incipient experience, comparing to yours.
I will not put in my own wording my questioning your certainty towards the "whatever rapier blade format" fitting Indian blades, as well as their function. Instead i will bring a few authors to the stage, those i am sure you do know for ages, with the difference that i am potentially misinterpreting their texts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... fragmented European rapier blades used on katars led to a sidebar on rapier blade use in the pata and khanda of the Marathas.
... mounted in Maratha swords such as pata and khanda were more of a status oriented novelty for court type wear...



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Old 30th May 2019, 07:45 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Jim, your resilience in the rapier blade saga is no more than mine in opposing some points i find hard to digest in it. They say one can only be a stubborn if his neighbor also is .
Let me start by the Khanda. I now you have a vast library in your bookmobile and a heavy luggage of knowledge; whereas i only have two or three publications and an incipient experience, comparing to yours.
I will not put in my own wording my questioning your certainty towards the "whatever rapier blade format" fitting Indian blades, as well as their function. Instead i will bring a few authors to the stage, those i am sure you do know for ages, with the difference that i am potentially misinterpreting their texts.




.


Fernando, the rapier blade in Indian swords 'dilemma' is one that I think requires a certain tenacity to resolve, and I think you and I share in stubbornness in looking at these kinds of matters. As Bob had mentioned on the thread where this rapier thing evolved, we have to keep an open mind as we investigate and discuss these topics.

Actually most of my 'vast' library is not here in the bookmobile, especially not STONE...….whose weight would certainly exceed the payload in this thing!

Thank you for your support in looking into this dilemma on rapier blades in India, and beginning with the khanda. I looked into "Arts of the Muslim Knight" ( B.Mohammed, ed. , Furissiya, 2009) and on p.24 notes,
"...very long thin blades single or double edged were also useful thrusting weapons, particularly for piercing armor. Such a sword worn in tandem with a sabre, is depicted on a 9th-10th c painting of a mounted warrior at Nishapur, but no Islamic double edged blades of this type survive before the Mamluk period. A unique late Timurid blade and an Ottoman sword with a tughra of Murad III( 1574-95) however give us some idea of the type in Europe known as estoc and which the Ottomans call mej."
The blades seemed to average around 100cm (36-39") .
Long thrusting blades remained in use in Europe, these were typically worn under the saddle ('tuck') and western blades or "...imitations of them were popular in India in the 16th and 17th c. They were known by the name 'firangi'".

In looking at the khanda, it seems like the blades 'typically' end in spatulate (pattisa) and rebated or rounded tips, so the idea of slashing rather than thrusting does seem characteristic . The khanda itself was a very early sword type of course, which was revamped in the 17th century as the 'Hindu basket hilt', but its use extended from not only Marathas, but to Rajputs, Sikhs and Mughals.
In Pant, there is another plate of khandas (attached here) where the thin rapier blade can be seen.
Also from "Arts of the Muslim Knight" (#66) attached is a picture of another khanda (firangi?) which is identified as a sabre(shamshir) ? and as a 'long sword with flexible blade for stabbing and thrusting'. While this is of course a 'basket hilt', it is clearly Mughal, as the inscriptions in koftgari are in naskh.

It would seem that obviously there were occasions for these 'basket hilt' swords, typically with extraordinarily long (over 3 ft. blades to nearly 4ft.) to have thin, flexible, narrow blades as in 'rapier'.
Clearly the Ottomans had some use for such thrusting blades, and India was not without influences from them.

Is it possible that these 'rapier' type bladed swords were secondary to other weapons and used as a 'tuck' (estoc) as required? With the notion of a secondary or auxiliary weapon seeming questionable, we are aware of maces which also have 'khanda' hilts. Perhaps the same concept of 'as required' weaponry being employed by the warrior, with several options?

Turning to the pata (gauntlet sword), it is often noted these used from horseback as a lance. Obviously that would seem improbable as the rider would be unhorsed with the weapon lodged in a victim. However, lances were not typically used as impaling weapons, but stabbing, thus the rider does not lose use of the weapon.

It would seem that these narrow blades on khanda or pata, though relatively unusual, would be used in similar fashion, stabbing, not run through thrusting.
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Old 30th May 2019, 08:31 PM   #4
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Lightbulb On the blades for patas

Have you a rapier, or ever had one, Jim ?
This is not the game game; skip over the etymology of the term and just ponder on what a rapier is. Not easy though but then, nothing is exact, and each one is the judge on his own right.
Forget Capoferro, Pallavicini, John Clements and all mediatic Gurus. Paraphrasing Judge Potter Stewart; i don’t know what a rapier is, but i know it when i see it.
Actually as the term rapier became a idolized at its, resistant countries (like Portugal) preferred to keep calling espadas (swords).
The rapier was a civilian sword, although apparently it is recorded that military regiments also used it.
Its blade could (should) be rather thin, even at times extremely thin, some with blunt edges. Some say they should be 2,5 cms. wide, although that is already within the range of a narrow sword blade; 2 cms. maximum being more within typology. But in the opposite, their narrowest section could reach 1 cm. thus touching the estoc range. My school fencing example measures 13 m/m in its widest square cross section. Only two of my eight cup & swept hilt swords are rapiers, for what i consider. Only three or four out of Eduardo Nobre’s collection he considers rapiers, those with blades width + or – 1 cms.
One thing is a narrow blade, another is an extremely narrow one. Same goes for flexibility; true rapiers, to my understanding, could not be extremely flexible, with risk not to do the job, which is perforating; notwithstanding some authors would admit they could also be used in the cutting but then, you are allowed to do what you feel like, and don’t go to jail for that. Same as with the pata; some say it could be used as a lance, but i don’t buy that, thinking is only authors imagination. Pata blades were bought (imported) with an intended flexibility, in order to slash as much as possible in combat; what Caravana calls arm abduction movement and Mundy’s considers them to be able to severe a bull’s neck. Furthermore, while katars could be mounted with European blade fragments (not my term) entire blades for patas were made to perform the intended purpose. But let me not talk about katars in this thread, with risk to be reprimanded for posting off topic material .
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Old 30th May 2019, 08:47 PM   #5
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Default The Firangi

C'mon Jim, don't misguide me ...
Isn't the Firangi a different thing; the Dhup or Sukhella, changing its name to Firangi when with an European imported blade? European but not English, as the Mahrathas were not in favour of their blades. Famous commander Angrey is quoted as saying that English blades were only fit to cut butter.
Tell me i am not wrong, Jim .
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Old 31st May 2019, 02:28 AM   #6
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Khanda... What's in the name?
If we adhere to Stone and Rawson, then.. it is straight, has a a basket handle, spatulate tip, edge reinforcements with the resultant one-and-a half edge, etc.
However, here are 3 swords from the Elgood's Jodhpur book: all labeled as Khanda, all with " tulwar" 17 century handles, blades 16-17 century. One is single-edged, another double-edged, and a third one altogether saber-like. Obviously, he got the names from somewhere, and I tend to believe his veracity and judgement.
I was puzzled and asked him for an explanation. His response was that it was all in the local language use.
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Old 31st May 2019, 02:59 AM   #7
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Kind of continuing ( this is more for Fernando).
Three Indian swords of mine.
Top to bottom:

Classical " Stone-Rawson-Pant's" Khanda

Khanda's old variant ( predecessor?), 18th century the latest, more likely 14-16th: it traditionally goes as Patissa in European sources.

The lowest one is Firangi with a European rapier blade ( see markings). In Deccan it was called Dhup, in Northern India it was Asa Shamshir.

And this opens yet another can of worms: apparently, the word " rapier" was used in Germany, whereas in Italy, Spain and France the very same sword was called spada, espada and epee ( all of which meant simply " sword" in their respective languages).
These cut-and-thrust weapons ( broadswords?) were popular during the late Renaissance times, but in ~ 17-18th centuries got out of fashion and were replaced by a purely thrusting smallsword ( "court sword", "dress sword"),with a needle-like blade based on newer fencing systems. Despite being still called rapiers, they were not suitable for Indian use where a cut was the king. A minor modification of the smallsword's blade gave birth to Colichemard. Having deeply blued, almost black, handle the same smallsword was called in Germany Trauerdegen ( "mourning sword"), which is still in use in Northern Germany during funeral processions.

The bottom line, not only in India, but in Europe as well one encounters same weapon called by different names depending on the language, location, intended function etc.

Likely, the same principle was operating in India with Jamadhar, Katar, Katara, Narsing-Moth and Maustika . Bich'hwa, Baku and Vinchu are established examle. Probably, Chillanum and Jamadhar Katari might have followed the same suit.
Sorry for digressing from the topic.
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Old 31st May 2019, 09:48 AM   #8
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Thank you Ariel,
Do i see my point prevailing in that, associating the same blade mounting style to either Pata and Khanda, is a flaw ... such as extensive to what this thread title implies.
I do not have Pant or (this) Elgood; my sources may not be top stars but, you know, those who don't have a dog ... hunt with a cat
I never had a Khanda ... but once had a Firangi.

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Old 31st May 2019, 10:25 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
... ( this is more for Fernando).
... And this opens yet another can of worms: apparently, the word " rapier" was used in Germany, whereas in Italy, Spain and France the very same sword was called spada, espada and epee ( all of which meant simply " sword" in their respective languages).
... The bottom line, not only in India, but in Europe as well one encounters same weapon called by different names depending on the language, location, intended function etc....

I would definitely reduce the quantity of worms in what relates Europeans name ambiguities, when comparing to those in the Indian immense multicultural subcontinent. The rapier thing is an isolated case ... at least to support my theory .
As approached in my post #4, in a simplified manner, calling rapier a "sword" in the different idioms, was a reluctant way from fencing masters, or common man's uncertainty, to not address a weapon with such a 'fashionable' term, considering that its form in particularities was under competition, so to say.
I know your Portuguese is good enough to read that:
" É importante notar que a palavra "rapieira" não foi usada pelos mestres Portugueses, Italianos, Espanhóis, e Franceses durante o zénite desta arma, os termos spada, espada e épée (ou éspée) eram usados normalmente (palavras genéricas para "espada") ".
To add that, even nowadays, calling a determined sword a rapier, is so often no more than a fancy (read appealing) attribution.
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Old 31st May 2019, 10:41 AM   #10
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Sorry Fernando, but I seem to miss the gist of your question. So let me reinforce mine.

My point was that our definition of Khanda according to Stone/Egerton is unnecessarily rigid. Perhaps down South Khandas were uniformly “ classic”, but up North the same word applied to dramatically different examples. Indeed, your reference to German’s book mentions Tulwar handles. Elgood goes even farther. To simplify: physical objects may or may not be identical in appearance, but languages rule.


I have seen Patas with European blades, but have never seen one with a Tulwar handle: always a basket one and riveted to the blade.

Thanks for you trust in my ability to understand Portuguese, but my entire vocabulary is limited to Bom Dios, Vinho Verde and Obregado. Said in this order and in rapid succession it always guaranteed me a drink in any bar:-)

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Old 31st May 2019, 03:26 PM   #11
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As i have said Ariel, (אריאל=Lion of God) my Hebrew almost so good as your Portuguese; my authors are not top stars, neither is the way they put their works. I have used a sub-reference (?); didn't notice the misguidance. The correct weapon was uploaded in post #8 (first picture) and the right description is:

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Old 31st May 2019, 06:30 PM   #12
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In beginning this thread, the objective was to determine the use of European RAPIER blades, the extremely narrow types well known on cup and swept hilt rapiers, on Indian swords such as the 'khanda' and the 'pata'.

Further, to determine if these narrow rapier blades might have been used in thrusting, contrary to my own previously held notions on Indian use of the cut or slash only with no provision for thrusting.

The element of etymology as applied in my post, was toward the sometimes broad use of the term 'rapier' by some period writers, and whether reference to 'rapier' blades might well refer inadvertently to the heavier arming blades of European swords, which sometimes shared similar hilts in their original mounts.

My apologies to readers for the specious 'name game' which I may have unintentionally brought on by this reference to that etymological possibility. This has brought up the inevitably contentious terms which plague the study of Indian edged weapons, with 'firangi' at the fore in this case.

As always, I continue with research toward my original question, whether such narrow rapier blades, which are seen occasionally in khanda and pata, might have actually been used as intended.

One of the salient references I found was in Elgood ("Hindu Arms & Ritual", 2004, p.184) where he notes, "...Tavernier * wrote that the European use of the point in fencing was unknown to the Indians in the 18th and 19thc. The Indians also used a number of cuts that were unknown in western sabre practice".
Further, "..Col. Blacker suggested that the Indian cutting stroke was the only one capable of penetrating the layers of cloth in turbans and quilted jacket armor. The native practice not only requires a stiff wrist, but a stiff though not straight elbow, for a cut that shall disable. If correct this would explain the popularity of the 'gauntlet' sword'.

* Tavernier: Jean Baptiste Tavernier (1605-1689), French gem merchant and traveler, known for his extensive journeys, profound skills at observation , perhaps most famously for the blue diamond he acquired in 1666, which became the notorious Hope Diamond. His journeys in India c. 1630-68.

OBSERVATION:
It would seem that referring to the turban and type of quilted armor were the defenses that the warriors attacking were up against, and clearly a narrow rapier blade would not achieve the necessary result in penetration.....it was the powerful cut of the warrior which did.

Another reference to the blades in the gauntlet swords (pata) in Pant (op.cit. p.62) notes;
"..the patta has a long flexible, regularly tapering straight steel blade, almost always double edged and frequently of European make- generally Italian or Spanish FLAT RAPIER blades". (caps are mine).

OBSERVATION:
Here, in foot note, it states a pata bearing the sign of Andrea Ferara , the famed 16th century Venetian smith appears, signature forged.
This of course denotes one of the typical 18th century Solingen made blades which were double edged arming or 'broadsword' blades typically seen in Scottish basket hilts.
A pata I have has typical Solingen astral figures engraved on the blade, being another of these 18th century blades used on these swords.

The term 'flat' but paired with the word rapier, is exactly what I mean by the misuse of the rapier term. These 'flat' blades were the DE arming blades discussed here, and I would point out that in the 18th c. Spain was NOT producing blades, they were made in Solingen for Spain, and they were NOT rapier blades. The only 'rapier' blades made were narrow and not 'flat' but with distinct section. Italian blades were typically of the schiavona type, not flat but lenticular, and broadsword type (DE).

Turning to the khanda:

In Pant (p.183), "...the khanda blade, while remaining true to its form, was made with a longer blade after the arrival of the Europeans in India as can be seen in the illustrations of warriors in the 'Nujum al Ulum' which shows longer and thinner blades in the hands of warriors wearing the tall cap of Vijayanagara. The same thin khanda blade also appears in the 'Hamzanama'.The length and narrowness and SPOON SHAPED tip of the blade makes these easily recognizable.
No doubt this was the counter the extremely long blades (by Indian standards) of the European RAPIERS".

OBSERVATION:
Obviously this reference is to the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th c.
The rapiers were known to reach extraordinary lengths, and were notably impressive to the Marathas. While the khanda seems to have maintained its traditional hilt, by the 17th it had become the 'Hindu basket hilt' with addition of a knuckle (finger) guard between the plated cross guard and pommel.

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Old 31st May 2019, 07:07 PM   #13
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Default English blades in India

It has been previously mentioned, in quoting the famed Maratha naval admiral Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre (1698-1729) that "..the English blades were only fit to cut butter with".
Rawson (1969. p.45) notes that there can be no doubt that English blades were 'brought'(?) by the Marathas, but factory correspondence shows they were regarded as highly unsatisfactory. Grose in 1772 )"Voyages to the East Indies") notes that a letter written by an EIC servant expressly states that the Marathas would not buy English blades, but only German (Solingen), Italian and Spanish RAPIER blades.

Pant (1980, p.70) notes that after the British occupation in the 18th century these RAPIERS became very popular in India also. Sometimes the rapier blades have been fitted to the firangi (khanda) and other Indian swords also (pata?).

OBSERVATION:

Exactly what English blades were being offered or provided in these times?
At the time of Admiral Angre, in the late 17th early 18th the rapier had largely become obsolete (except typically in Spain) and the small sword had become the fashionable civilian sword. The English blade making industry was virtually non existent but for the German oriented Hounslow factory up to mid 17th and Shotley Bridge in latter 17th. While there were some makers in Oxford their production was limited, and through these times the only blades produced were 'arming' blades of single edge usually for mortuary type swords......certainly NOT rapiers.
I have seen many European arming swords such as 'pappenheimers' referred to as rapiers.....though their heavy but relatively narrow blades are obviously not 'rapier'.

As previously mentioned, the Italian blades were likely schiavona types, a heavier blade usually broadsword but later backsword, and with these complex hilts, were often regarded as a type of arming rapier.

As mentioned, most of the Spanish blades in early to latter 18th c. were nearly invariably made in Solingen and mounted with DE dragoon blades (arming) with hexagonal section but in cuphilts (colonial) they were often termed rapiers by writers. Obviously in Spain it was 'espade de taza' , indeed using the espada term.

The reason I have attended to this remark on the English blades is that some of the text in references uses the term rapier and is pertinent.

Returning to the comment in context with English blades, that after the British occupation in India in 18th c. the 'RAPIER' blades became popular.
The only English 'rapier' blade I can think of was the small sword, which was of course mostly a dress sword, or perhaps dueling epee, yet due to the similarity of hilt styles was often referred to generally as a 'rapier'.
In the famed battle of Lt. Maynard vs. Blackbeard in 1718, in the action Maynard's sword (a smallsword) had its blade snap in half.
Perhaps similar result with these type blades were the source of Angre's comment. It seems quite possible that Angre's comment was somewhat politically motivated, considering the conflicts between him and them.

As the English could barely supply their own demands and relied primarily on Solingen imports for blades, how could they sell to the Marathas? there were few makers. Even by mid 18th c. there were only 3 or 4 makers in Birmingham aside from probably numbers of independants not recorded.

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Old 1st June 2019, 03:14 AM   #14
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Default The blades in pata and khanda were arming blades used for cutting strokes

FURTHER NOTES:
Re: possible use of the European rapier blade in Indian pata and khanda, the gauntlet sword and 'Hindu basket hilt'.

In Rawson (1969, p.23),
"...Indian swordsmanship seems never to have made use of the point or much use of guarding with the sword. We have it on the authority of the traveler Tavernier that his own European method of point-fence was completely unfamiliar to his Indian hosts. The only evidence for the use of the point in Indian hand arms occurs in the specialized katars equipped with a heavy 'maille perce' tip. Indian sword blades were thus not made primarily to parry wigh. Parrying was the function of the small circular shield in use since the 10th c.
Blades were intended primarily to cut, and only the Maratha swords influenced by European examples, which were given reinforced edges and basket hilts, seem ever to have been conceived as parrying weapons. "

on p.47 re, the Marathas":
"..they seem to be content with the forms of the European blades as they received them, and the actual forms of the mountings have no more than immediately practical invention expended on them".

also, "...there is no indication that the Marathas entertained an aesthetic of the sword, though no doubt they rated good workmanship highly, and must have been skilled swordsmen. Their fondness for the adaptable BROADSWORD indicates they were swordsmen of a character that did not allow any preconceptions of a science of swordsmanship to interfere with expediency".

Throughout the 18th into the 19th c. many kinds of sword besides standard forms were used by the Marathas, noted as a 'motley' crowd, and used pretty much any blades and weapons available.

MY CONCLUSION:
While there was a wide array of European sword blades entering the Maratha sphere, these were primarily arming types of blades, typically double edged, but some were backswords. Although some of these were narrow blades, the term 'rapier' blade was often misleadingly used, as they were 'heavy' rapier blades as used on swords such a pappenheimers, schiavona and other military type arming swords.

These were coming into Indian trade through the Marathas, and most probably many Armenian merchants, and came mostly from Solingen, possibly Genoa and other entrepots. As there were often intrigues interrupting shipments of blades from Germany into England, it is possible that the notion of English blades might have become construed through such routing. However the comment by Admiral Angre surely could not have referred to these German blades s they were high quality.

Therefore I would submit that the narrow rapier type blades used in civilian fencing type swords were not used in swords such as the pata and khanda. They could however have been used in the 'gupti' sword cane/stick.

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Old 1st June 2019, 06:20 AM   #15
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Thank You Jim~ That was a brilliant rendition and a great learning curve for all concerned.
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Old 1st June 2019, 11:57 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... Therefore I would submit that the narrow rapier type blades used in civilian fencing type swords were not used in swords such as the pata and khanda...

A toast to your candid statement, Jim,
Let's make it an illustrated one ... with images borrowed from my own little collection and Eduardo Nobre's, featuring swords that may be called rapiers, some of them "off mark" (illegally lengthy) and some patas i saved to my disk a while back from this very forum. Different blade typology is visible... at least in these shown


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Old 1st June 2019, 01:47 PM   #17
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The issue is significantly confused by the fact that we do not know exactly to what kind of sword ( blade) a particular author is referring.

Was he having in mind a late Renaissance cut-and-thrust sword?
Or, the 17-18 century purely thrusting smallsword that continued to be called rapier by some despite the obvious dating and functional difference?

While the former could easily be used as a part of Indian Pata or Firangi, or even Khanda, the latter was totally unsuitable for that purpose.

Let’s not overestimate military/fencing sophistication of older linguists and even arms historians . After all, even now we can see definition of long and thin bronze Mycenaean swords as “rapiers”. Sure, they looked like swords that d’Artagnan wielded in countless Hollywood movies:-)

While the most popular origin of the word “rapier” is traced to the Spanish Espada Ropera ( dress sword), there were opinions that it stemmed from Greek ραπίζειν “ to strike”, or French /English raspiere/ rasper “scraper or poker”.

Language is a powerful tool to confuse us. Not for nothing Divine creation of multiple languages ended human project of building the Tower of Babel and why Americans and Brits are called two nations divided by a common language:-)
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Old 1st June 2019, 03:52 PM   #18
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Amen to all that, Ariel.
I would add to the etymology quiz the suggestion by some dude called Scheler in that, the discussed term comes from the German rappen, raffen = snatch.
But, as in its genesis this sword style had about the same parameters in different nations, and their nationals adopted local idiomatic terms to name the thing, even possibly having given it a different use, evolution then followed its path according to each said nation's needs and imagination; civilian, military, cut thrust, whatever.
Not wanting to be tagged as a radical, i would not reject the perspective that traditionalists would decline the use of the rapier controversial term, despite the burden to spell out a couple describing words, to let know what they refer to.
In the end, the inexorable truth is that, before and after rapiers, swords remain swords.

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Old 1st June 2019, 05:43 PM   #19
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First of all, thank you so much Ibrahiim and Fernando for the kind words.

Ariel, thank you for finally capturing exactly what this thread was all about in the beginning, and the dilemma I referred to, which was we could not know with certainty which type of blade was being noted by the authors. It was never about the 'name game' or the almost nonsensical 'firangi' conundrum.

The point was (no pun intended) that the point-fence style of swordsmanship was completely unknown to the Indians in the 17th c.(as well noted by Tavernier).

As mentioned earlier (and I appreciate the indulgence for the elaborate corpus of cited quotes in my text) Elgood mentioned that the khanda blade was made longer after the arrival of the Europeans. He states this was no doubt to counter the EXTREMELY long blades of the European 'rapiers'

This is of course in accord with the notably (and often 'illegally so', as in Spanish legal restrictions) long rapier blades you show Fernando.

As can be seen with the pata illustration, this wider broadsword blade, which is distinctly German in form, but curiously has the three central fullers and the moons (dukari) as placed on Saharan blades. This type blade with three fullers is identical to my pata, but mine has astral sun, moon etc. This shows clearly that numbers of German blades which had been likely destined for North African entrepots, seem to have diverted to the Indian ports in the west.

In Rawson (1969, #22) is a pata in the V&A museum, 18th c. with this type of 'arming' blade. As noted, these became colloquially associated with the late renaissance period thrusting rapiers, where similar hilts were later mounted with militarily feasible heavier blades. (attached image).

In Pant, the plate of khandas I included with five examples (added below)of line drawings, the one on the far left seems to have a thin rapier blade, but this seems an anomaly or perhaps artistic license?
Rawson notes (p.23) that blades were intended primarily to cut, and only the Maratha swords influenced by European examples, which were given reinforced edged and basket hilts, seem ever to have bee conceived as parrying weapons.

While this suggests that European swordsmanship appears to have had distinct influence on the hilt, with addition of finger guard to complete the basket effect....and the bolstered edges which suggest same to receive blows in parrying.....it still does not seem the thrust was used. Again, this would negate the probable use of the narrow rapier blades.

Thank you guys for the additional input, which helps better evaluate this question as posed.
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Old 1st June 2019, 05:43 PM   #20
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Agree 100%.

And, taking a risk of being chided for not sticking to the topic, the same considerations equally apply to the Katar/jamadhar, Khanda and endless Indonesian controversies. Tribe, tradition and language dictate names.
This is why it is so important to flush out original names and try to correlate them with the people who used them.

Name is an equivalent of a DNA test.
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Old 1st June 2019, 06:04 PM   #21
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Something I have always wanted to do, and Robert Elgood has already done this in a fashion in his glossaries, is to cross reference the various terms used for particular weapon forms. This would especially benefit ethnographic arms study in offering a 'thesaurus' type reference that would present terms in different contexts and languages. Often there are colloquial or vernacular terms for a type, and sometimes the terms are actually general, such as sa'if; khanda; talwar which are technically = sword, but not otherwise specified.

The name game is typically counterproductive as incomplete or unreferenced use causes confusion, and the method I often use of parenthesized alternate terms becomes clumsy. However, it still becomes the best method at hand in avoiding semantic misunderstandings for those not necessarily deeply engrained in a topic. While most of us here know and understand these variations, many readers do not, and this impairs the learning potential greatly.
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Old 4th June 2019, 07:42 PM   #22
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Hi all,

I think one thing this thread could benefit from is a visual gallery of sorts, like with the pictures that Fernando has already posted. This should help everyone get a better understanding of the swords that we are talking about, as no doubt everyone has a different image of with a specific sword looks like in their mind (I know I personally imagine a swept hilt when thinking of a rapier, but only nebulously imagine the blade as being long, pointy, and thin).

To that extent with a pata I personally have the image of a generic (flat/smooth) gauntlet hilt with a broad blade, as best represented by the first image I've attached below.

To somewhat diverge from my point, I feel like it is necessary to ask: has anyone seen a pata with a definite rapier (super thin & pointy) blade? I feel like the claim that "rapier blades were mounted on patas" can be debunked simply by a lack of physical, documented evidence of the practice. Though of course more swords have been produced in India than have been photographed, it is still valid (I think) to expect at least a couple of these "pata-rapiers" to be documented. More likely I think this is just a case of the previously discussed name-game, with the use of the term "rapier" meant more generically at the time, and only later misinterpreted by us forumites.

As a bit of an exercise, I'd invite everyone to post images of the closest thing to a rapier-bladed pata they can find - whoever finds one mounted with a smallsword blade wins! Of course then there will no doubt be the argument over how thin a blade can be to still be able to cut well in the "Indian style"

Either way, here's my pick (the second & third images) - a pata with a pretty decently thin tapering blade, allegedly native-made from the 17th century.
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Old 4th June 2019, 10:12 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nihl
Hi all,

I think one thing this thread could benefit from is a visual gallery of sorts, like with the pictures that Fernando has already posted. This should help everyone get a better understanding of the swords that we are talking about, as no doubt everyone has a different image of with a specific sword looks like in their mind (I know I personally imagine a swept hilt when thinking of a rapier, but only nebulously imagine the blade as being long, pointy, and thin).

To that extent with a pata I personally have the image of a generic (flat/smooth) gauntlet hilt with a broad blade, as best represented by the first image I've attached below.

To somewhat diverge from my point, I feel like it is necessary to ask: has anyone seen a pata with a definite rapier (super thin & pointy) blade? I feel like the claim that "rapier blades were mounted on patas" can be debunked simply by a lack of physical, documented evidence of the practice. Though of course more swords have been produced in India than have been photographed, it is still valid (I think) to expect at least a couple of these "pata-rapiers" to be documented. More likely I think this is just a case of the previously discussed name-game, with the use of the term "rapier" meant more generically at the time, and only later misinterpreted by us forumites.

As a bit of an exercise, I'd invite everyone to post images of the closest thing to a rapier-bladed pata they can find - whoever finds one mounted with a smallsword blade wins! Of course then there will no doubt be the argument over how thin a blade can be to still be able to cut well in the "Indian style"

Either way, here's my pick (the second & third images) - a pata with a pretty decently thin tapering blade, allegedly native-made from the 17th century.




Nihl, its nice to have you posting on this, and thank you for observing and reiterating exactly what I had queried in this thread in the beginning.....were there actually these THIN narrow rapier blades ever used in khanda and pata.

One of the problems we had discussed, was the dilemma of the insistence on occasion of earlier writers using the term rapier (which brings to mind the VERY narrow blades used in civilian examples) to describe blades which were actually heavier 'arming ' blades. While I agree the name game is an aggravating nuisance in many cases, when you are relying on unillustrated written sources it can be most misleading.

If you have noted in the ensuing discussion, this very aspect was the source of considerable consternation, and in my post #19, I added illustrations of one pata with what appears a 'heavy rapier' blade (Rawson, 1969. #22) of the 18th c.; and a drawing of a khanda with VERY narrow rapier blade (Pant, 1980, fig. 54) among four others with wider blades.

I think one of the problems with the term rapier may be that as you note, many have an image of a swept HILT...…..actually the rapier term is referring to the blade, the hilts vary. You are right though, more pictures are helpful .

Thank you for noticing my question and appeal for any examples of these NARROW rapier blades. Many of the aspects concerning this dilemma are included in the text of the entries here, but so far without compelling result.

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Old 5th June 2019, 02:40 PM   #24
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These are the pictures i can recover from the pata i used to have ...
Visibly a field weapon, not one for parade or big shot's show off.
A lenticular blade, not so sharp double edged, one fuller in the first third, slightly tapering towards the end, but not so pointy.
Length 96 cms. width 25 m/m. No marks.
This is to some, what would (could) be called a rapier blade. I will leave it to your discretion.
On a different note, one thing that occurs is that, the smith already has to have the blade in his hands to then design the 'forte' where it is going to be mounted.


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Old 5th June 2019, 03:35 PM   #25
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In keeping with the previous train of thought , Pant (1980, p.70) has noted, "...some of the Indo-British RAPIERS, kept in the Indian museums belonging to the 18-19th c. have LONG HEAVY BLADES and very elaborate guards made up of cups, shells and loops".

Here we see that there are references to heavy blades swords, with elaborate guards made up of cups, shells and loops (rapier hilts?) which are termed 'rapier' probably due to the perception described regarding the 'hilt' but considering the entire sword a 'rapier'.

This is the circumstance I was referring to in application or 'mis-application' of the term in some of the descriptions of rapier blades occurring in khanda and pata.

It appears that Indian smiths were fully capable of producing very narrow blades of rapier type.

Elgood (2004, p.149, 15.11) shows a katar using a cut down European rapier blade.

While such narrow blades were in what I have seen, more of an anomaly, it does seem that some degree of thrusting must have been favored, as per personal preference.
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Old 5th June 2019, 06:26 PM   #26
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Could it be that Mr. Pant is another fan of the term rapier in its non intrinsic acceptation, as so many ?. I wonder whether he is familiar with A.V.B. Norman's work which, by the way, is called the Rapier and Small Sword.
In pages 19-28 Norman weaves extensive considerations on the rapier which, not approaching their possible use in Indian patas, hopefully helps demystifying such controversial term.
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Old 7th June 2019, 06:08 PM   #27
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from "Jamdhar katari - a theory"
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...97&page=8&pp=30

Just some comments:
Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
May i fully disagree, Jim. On the contrary, patas were mainly used in the field, despite requiring exclusively oriented training on their own, the reason why these formidable Mahrata swords were not adopted by other nations. Prestige orientation was not the issue.
The deliberate flexibility of the blade, with a length varying from 120 to a 150 centimeters, was an added advantage, because if it hit across a hard or resistant object, it merely bent over and thus prevented the rider from being unhorsed. You are surely aware of Egerton quoting Capt. Mundys journal, recounting a demonstration of the pata: The gauntlet sword whose blade fully 5 feet long in the hands of a practiced swordsman appears a terrible weapon, though to those unaccustomed to its use, it is but an awkward instrument ... the performer describing a variety of revolutions, not unlike an exaggerated waltz.
These assumptions are not distant from those of Rainer Daehnhardt, who also emphasizes the need for special training of these ideal (SIC) swords.

The patas were not only Mahrata swords. In the 18th patas were primarily swords for horsemen used by Muslims, Rajputs and so. As well as tulwars, khandas, jamdhars and so... By this time, there was already the weapons complex common to all Indian states with few exceptions. I think before that patas were used in Deccan sultanates where Marathi people were one of the most numerous population and served in Sutanates armies. We can easily guess where patas come to Deccan from.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
I am with Fernando.
Their mass-produced Patas ( Portuguese “paws”? Fernando, how am I doing?) were very flexible , designed to slash and bounce, distantly reminiscent of South Indian/ Sri Lankan Urumi.
My Pata is so flexible, that if an opponent tries to parry the cut with his sword, my blade will just bend around it and hit him behind the block.
These attacks must have left behind very few dead , but multiple wounded and disabled men and horses.


Real battle patas never were very flexible. Very flexible are patas from 1 to 200-years old used exceptionally for shows.

The European rapier blade is the best for the real pata. It is flexible enough for
Quote:
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prevented the rider from being unhorsed.
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Old 7th June 2019, 10:09 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Could it be that Mr. Pant is another fan of the term rapier in its non intrinsic acceptation, as so many ?. I wonder whether he is familiar with A.V.B. Norman's work which, by the way, is called the Rapier and Small Sword.
In pages 19-28 Norman weaves extensive considerations on the rapier which, not approaching their possible use in Indian patas, hopefully helps demystifying such controversial term.


Well noted, Norman's work in this book describing the variant use of the term rapier in European parlance is brilliant. I think it does explain the use of the term in often broader sense, and I think Pant simply used the wordage in the references indiscriminately and though Norman is in his bibliography, not sure he read this part.
He seems to have carefully scrutinized both Egerton and Rawson toward Indian sword details, but clearly he did not approach Norman's work in this regard.
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